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Israel Will Seek $31 Billion Compensation From Iran For Jewish Property

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a cabinet meeting. FILE PHOTO

Israel's Minister of Social Equality, Gila Gamliel says that the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran forced tens of thousands of Jewish people to leave $31.3 billion of their assets and properties behind when they fled the country.

"After a two-year clandestine research, the Israeli Prime Minister's cabinet has concluded that the total wealth left behind by the Jews in Iran and Arab countries amounts to nearly $150 billion," Gamliel maintained.

Gamliel launched the classified project in 2017, teaming up with Israel's National Security Council, whose purpose was to evaluate the total sum of the property and assets that were left behind by Jews who had to flee Iran and Arab countries.

Based on the research, Israeli media report that Netanyahu is planning to force Iran and several Arab lands to pay compensation for the wealth left by the Jews.

The decision means that in any future talks with Iran and Arab governments, Israel will be obliged to table the subject and demand compensation.

According to a study by the Museum of the Diaspora, more than 700,000 Jews from Arab countries and Iran migrated to Israel, mostly in the second half of the 20th century, including nearly 400,000 from North Africa. The remainder arrived from Iraq, Yemen, and other countries.

It is hard to say how many Jews were forced out of these countries by governments, but most left because they had no choice given the prevailing anti-Semitic propaganda and serious intimidation.

It is the first time that the Israel has compiled comprehensive data on this issue, with significant historical and international political ramifications, Israel Hayom reported.

Gamliel is set to officially present the report to the government in the coming weeks.

Initially, in February 2010, the Knesset approved the Law for Preservation of the Rights to Compensation of Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran. Article 3 of the law stipulates, "Within the framework of negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East, the government will include the issue of compensation for the lost property of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran, including property owned by the Jewish communities of those lands." In the meantime, the Israeli prime minister was made responsible for advancing the provisions of the law.

"This is nothing less than the beginning of correction of the injustice of historic proportions," Gamliel was quoted as saying. "We will now be able to restore the property and wealth of hundreds of thousands of Jews, as part of the narrative of how a small state absorbed so many people after they were turned into penniless refugees."

The study breaks down the value of assets and population numbers for several of the countries, with assets including land, homes, savings, and businesses. Over 100,000 Jews lived in Iran, with assets of $31.3 billion; there were 38,000 Jews in Libya, who were stripped of $6.7 billion in assets; Yemen had 55,000 Jews, who had $2.6 billion in assets; neighboring Aden had a community of 8,000 Jews, with $700 million in assets; and in Syria, 30,000 Jews forced to leave the country left behind $1.4 billion in assets, the daily newspaper of Torah Jewry, Hamodia reports.

In the meantime, the research shows that only 10,000 Jews are left in Iran and just twenty Syria, while no Jews are living in Libya and Yemen.